I remember so clearly the day I first met Finley. He was by far the largest puppy of the litter. He had these gigantic paws and it was evident even then that he had a giant heart to match. Of course we played with all the gorgeous little pups, but there was never any doubt that Finley was the one who was meant to be ours. He had the gentlest eyes, and even as a puppy his calm and steady personality came through. It was love at first snuggle!!
Naming our fur family members is always an ordeal in my family. There are lots of us, and we are not lacking in opinions! So, our happy little fur ball was nameless for the first couple of days. Names for us must not only fit our pet’s personality, but also have a meaning that suits them. We could tell already that this little pup would grow up to be a real gentleman, so we began to google ‘gentleman names’. Finley, now there was a name that sounded right. Next hurdle, the meaning….Finley means Fair Haired Hero, yes it was perfect! He was most definitely fair haired, and we knew he had a hero’s heart. At long last we were all unanimously in favor, our handsome new boy would be called Finley.
Finley grew….and grew….and GREW! But no matter how big he got, his gentleness never wavered. My youngest child was only 5 when we got him. She had always been wary of dogs and so we were not sure how things would go; would she be terrified by this furry new addition to the family? We had no need to worry because Finley in his calm, steady, and loving way managed to cure my daughter of her fear of dogs. They became the best of friends. I would often see them walking across the yard together, with her tiny hand on his massive head. Ever the guardian, I will never forget how he would walk her back to the house from skating on the pond whenever she got done a little earlier than the rest of the us.
Finley took his role as a guardian very seriously. Nothing or no one came onto our property without our knowing about it. One rainy night, it was already dark, but I needed to go out to check on my ducks and tuck them into bed. I was all geared up in a large, hooded raincoat and not looking much like myself at all. Finley was out back patrolling and hadn’t seen me come outside, but he did detect ‘someone’ rounding the corner to the duck house. He came galloping towards me, barking furiously. I knew he would never hurt anyone, but even knowing this, it was terrifying! I threw back my hood and called out “It’s me boy”….and just like that all was good in the world and he was ready for a snuggle.
Now I don’t want you to get the wrong idea, Finley guarded gently. He was a big presence, with a big, big bark and that’s all it took. The combination of him being so loving and trustworthy but also brave and intimidating, made him the perfect family guard dog.
Finley was always there. A walk outside. A day of yard work. Skate days. Sled days. Summer days. Deck visits. Or pulling into the yard after a day in town. There he was. Finley, steady and sure.
Then it happened. Late one night my son and I heard a knock on the door. There was no bark to announce the vehicle that had pulled in. ‘That’s strange’ I thought. My son answers the door (I am hiding around the corner, ready to attack with my large metal water bottle should it be an intruder). I overhear a lady in a very distressed voice say she thinks she hit our dog. “He can’t move” she says. Despite my best efforts, I begin to cry, tears streaming down my face. I retreat, not wanting to make her feel any worse than she already does. I wake my husband to go and help my son bring Finley home. Still crying. My heart is breaking. I know it’s bad. They bring my big, brave boy home; despite all the pain he is in, he’s still so gentle, still so Fin.
When we arrive at the Emergency Veterinary Office, two petite girls come out to carry in my gigantic boy. “Is he gentle” they ask. With full confidence I say, “he is”. I am so grateful they believed me and did not muzzle him, somehow, I would not have been able to bear that. He does not even growl as they pick up his broken body and take him inside. We stay outside, Covid rules keeping us waiting in the parking lot. X-rays and a call from the vet confirmed what in my heart I already new, we would have to put him down. Thankfully, they let us in to say goodbye. It is so hard; it is too soon. Finley is only 3.
Finley you stole our hearts and we will always miss you. You were not just a dog; you were a friend and a part of our family. Have fun in doggie heaven big guy!
No Such Thing as Just A Dog
If only a moment in time could be rewound.
There was a knock on my door and I soon found,
that on the road your broken body did lie,
and it would soon be time to say goodbye,
to a wonderful friend, loyal and true,
you were hurt too badly so all we could do,
was to let you go with broken hearts,
to the place good dogs go when its time to part.
They love their people and fearlessly protect,
for a good dog’s heart could never neglect,
the drive they have to love and watch over,
their people who cherish their brave little rovers.
Dogs teach us about unconditional love,
always giving ‘no-matter-what’ cuddles and hugs.
A head in our lap, a paw in our hand,
they sit by our feet, they guard our land.
One look in their eye and it’s plain to see,
how deep their affection for you and me.
Our furry family brave and kind,
forever live on in heart and mind.
They each are unique, there is not one the same.
There’s no such thing as just a dog, this is my claim.
Who is ted?
Well, for starters, my full name is Tobi Elizabeth Duckering - AKA -TED.